2020 Outlook: Predictions for the pest control industry


February 12, 2020



Problems with pests are as old as time, but the pest control industry is one that is constantly evolving to keep up with modern times.

Today’s pest control industry relies on continually changing technology to remain profitable by improving operational efficiency and providing customers with superior service. As the industry continues to grow and change, let’s take a look at what pest management professionals (PMPs) can expect throughout 2020. Here are three of my predictions:


1. Continuing industry consolidation

At this time last year, the signs all pointed to more mergers and acquisitions on the horizon, and the past year has shown that to be precisely the case.

Looking at WorkWave PestPac customers, we see mergers and acquisitions taking place with a steady frequency. Given the current rate, I expect 2020 to remain consistent with the high rate of mergers and acquisitions we saw throughout both 2018 and 2019.

We’ve seen larger pest control companies steadily acquiring small and mid-sized operations, consolidating employees and customers alike. Mergers like this often pose a valuable opportunity for longtime owners of smaller pest control companies, yet only a very small percentage of owners express plans to prepare their business to be sold. Consolidation remains a key aspect of today’s reality, but most small or mid-size business owners don’t seem to anticipate it playing an immediate role in their business. With that knowledge, those who are looking to sell, can capitalize on the climate by being proactive and taking steps to prepare their businesses to sell.

For those who remain uninterested in selling, though, staying competitive with larger companies can certainly seem daunting. Focusing on customer loyalty, upselling and cross-selling, and honing in on local prospects remains key.

2. Bringing technology into employee retention

With industry consolidation comes the challenge of quickly bringing on or merging new employees into your current business. One issue that seems to plague almost every pest control company is losing employees and having to spend time and money bringing new ones up to speed. In fact, over 50 percent of respondents in WorkWave’s recent pest control industry study named employee recruitment and retention as being among their top three biggest business challenges. While there are a number of ways to help encourage the best employees to stay on, technology plays a key role in achieving that goal.

The simple truth is that employees will have a natural inclination to stay in a job that they like, which means that anything that makes their day better can make a big difference. With technology available to reduce drive time, minimize paperwork and help PMPs be more efficient during their day, owners and managers have the potential to create a workday for employees that’s fulfilling, safe and productive. With 35 percent of industry costs going to wages alone (according to IBISWorld), it is critical that owners are investing in dedicated, hard working and long-lasting employees.

Documentation of internal processes and procedures is critical to strengthen employee productivity and adherence, along with keeping them satisfied in their line of work. What technology are you using today to document this information for your teams? The use of cloud technology such as G-Suite to write and store your processes in the cloud will be key within the industry in the coming months. This makes the information available to anyone in the company on mobile devices for easy visibility and access, while organizing the information in practical and logical ways leads your employees to finding the right information when they need it the most — all in real time. As an employee, there’s nothing more frustrating than not knowing how or when to complete a task. This investment in technology will absolutely pay dividends in the long term.

Using technology is becoming a key tool to drive employee recognition, as well. If you’re not using a Net Promoter Score (NPS) system already, you need to think about implementing a survey system to capture customer feedback on their experiences with your organization’s employees. With NPS, you can identify areas of opportunity, drive coaching opportunities and share positive feedback internally throughout the organization. When you drive employee recognition, you drive overall employee satisfaction and retention by strengthening their skill sets and rewarding them for outstanding work.

Employees prefer to stay where they’re given a chance to grow, and technology allows you to give your star players a chance to thrive. Invest in an online education system for continued training in the various roles your employees are in. There are several great options available today, such as TalentLMS. If employees feel like there’s structured, professional growth opportunities within your business, they will be more inclined to stay. This type of system will enable your team members to learn new things, strengthen soft skills and increase technical expertise.

If you don’t have the budget to build your own online education system, then you have plenty of other options to leverage third-party online learning courses such as LinkedIn Learning, Coursera and Udemy. You can find a variety of educational topics that relate to pest control, including customer service, IT and business management. Budding technology will continue to make training more accessible, which in turn becomes key to retaining your valuable PMPs; the return on investment is evident.

3. Pairing instincts with insights

In the past, many PMPs have been able to make decisions based on a gut feeling or past experiences with some success. The industry as a whole, however, is trending toward a business climate built on technology and intelligence. In fact, a quarter of our WorkWave survey respondents note that they’re seeking intelligent, actionable reporting for their business.

With more advanced systems for tracking data and identifying trends, pest control businesses are now capable of tracking key performance indicators (KPI) across the industry, creating benchmarks to compare their own performance against. Customer intelligence — the process of collecting, organizing, and analyzing customer data — will become more integral to the decision making process for PMPs, as well. For a smaller business that is not interested in being purchased, tracking KPIs and building on customer insights can be the key factor in improving efficiency and staying competitive with larger companies.

Rick Agajanian

Rick Agajanian

While getting to know customers in the traditional sense is always been important, customer intelligence offers the chance to glean unique insights and to make decisions that help PMPs stay a step ahead of competitors. This can help automate responses to customers, improve workflows and take action faster when working to address customers’ needs.

Whatever your goals for your business are in 2020, staying on top of trends in the industry and anticipating upcoming shifts can help you make smarter plans, keep your employees happy and provide better service for your customers.

Do you have other ideas on what might be coming down the pipeline this year? Share in the comments below.

Rick Agajanian is director of product management at WorkWave PestPac. You can reach the WorkWave team on Twitter at @WorkWave.


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